It’s almost July and the weather has become pretty juicy. One thing is for sure: I don’t stray too far from water between now and October. What better to do now than spend weekends and mornings on Broward County’s (almost empty) beaches. The snowbirds have returned home and holiday season is not in full swing yet. Turtle nesting season is at its peak, however, and there is nothing better than going for an early morning walk to check out new tracks that may have appeared overnight. And why not reward yourself with a refreshing swim afterwards. Start your day off right!
What’s the best time to spot fresh turtle tracks?
If you can manage to peel yourself out of bed, the earlier the better, and there is no better time than sunrise or just after, between 6:00 and 7:30am. That is the time when you will be almost alone on the beach and there haven’t been lots of beachgoers trampling over the turtle tracks already. Also, this is a fantastic time of the day generally. The ocean is usually flat calm and you are able to see an abundance of fish and birds in the shallows, all trying to snatch some breakfast. I love going on these walks before starting my busy workday. It’s almost meditative.
I regularly walk at this early time and often see the tracks and nests before they have been staked by the Nova University/Broward County turtle patrol. There is nothing better than seeing the tracks and finding a nest before anyone else.
Fresh Turtle Tracks and Nest
I always try to stay clear of the turtle tracks so they are not obscured for the turtle patrol, and I certainly stay well away from the actual nest so as not to cause any inadvertent damage.
The other day, I was fortunate enough to witness a nest relocation. Turtle Mama had laid her nest too close to the water line, and in order to keep the eggs safe from saltwater intrusion, the nest was dug up and relocated.
Turtle Nest Relocation Close To Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale
There is always something new to see in the morning. Sadly, sometimes a turtle aborts her egg laying mission and there can be several reasons for this, but most likely human involvement in one way or another. This is typically called a “false crawl”. Unfortunately, I often see the aborted attempts near hotels or large “on the sand” condo buildings. I assume that the turtle was disturbed by too much light or there were people on the beach making noise or maybe getting too close to the turtle.
Aborted Nesting Attempt
Typically, the turtle will return a few hours later to a close-by location, and attempt nesting again.
Some Amazing Sea Turtle Facts
- Nearly 90% of sea turtle nesting in the US happens in Florida
- A female turtle deposits around 100 eggs before heading back to the water
- Male turtles never leave the ocean
- After incubation (45-55 days), the hatchlings hatch “en-masse” and begin to move towards the water as quickly as possible, aided by moon light, unless they are distracted by artificial lighting in which case they can get lost and never find their way to the ocean.
- Only 1 in 1000 hatchlings goes on to become an adult reproductive turtle
- The two most important things we as humans can do to help turtle hatchlings is to collect trash and reduce light pollution around our beaches
- Most of the nests found on the beaches of Broward county are those of loggerhead turtles (caretta caretta)
- Sea turtles have been around for over 110 million years
So, what are you waiting for? Take the family and go for an early morning turtle nest discovery walk. Bring a bag and collect any trash you see lying around, you will feel virtuous afterwards and have done your good deed for the day! As a bonus it’s pretty good exercise and guess what? It’s also totally free, unless you have to come by car in which case it will cost just a small parking fee. Happy turtle nest hunting!
Say hello if you see me!